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Here’s are eight creative ways to  prepare for the of real estate in 2011. Get into the holiday spirit with these lessons for the last quarter of the year.

Business planning would be more fun if we all wore party hats and drank champagne. But there will be time to celebrate after we prepare ourselves to meet the challenges of the next generation of real estate buyers and sellers. To help, we’ve created a “holiday” planning guide with lessons from the events we celebrate, with ideas you can incorporate into your your business planning for the New Year.

It takes courage and daring to make the calendar. Holidays are fun today, but they remind us of events in which outcomes were uncertain and disaster a real possibility. There’s no holiday for those who “waited out” the tough times. Making the calendar requires bold action and a willingness to break with tradition. To earn a holiday, you’ll need to do more than make it to the next quarter.

So mark your calendar and apply these lessons from some of history’s greatest moments and people as you prepare to meet the challenges and opportunities of 2011.

  • October 2: Weave some homespun. On Ghandi’s birthday, recall how the Indian statesman urged his nation to become self-sufficient through gentle “non-cooperation.”  The same advice applies to the housing industry. It’s time to stop cooperating with bad ideas and undisciplined performers, whether in our offices or in the halls of government. Start quietly and peacefully cutting ties with anything holding back your growth. Whether it’s a non-performing agent or a non-performing listing, begin the gentle and steady process of asking all parties to go their separate ways. You won’t find success if you’re still pouring salt in your wounds next year.
  • October 11th: Venture forth. Ships can dock in a harbor, but that’s not what they’re really built for, so like Columbus, use October 11th to venture forth into new seas. Look for areas of the market where others dare not go. Columbus found new markets, and so can you: Maybe it’s rentals as a hedge against foreclosures. Or seek foreign buyers eager to take invest in our bargain housing market. Steer clear of swampy short-sales and head for open seas.
  • October 31st: Scare your competitors. This Halloween, trick  your competitors and treat your clients. Kill off lurking zombies in your business  – like newspaper ads and postcard mailers. Bury blood-sucking activities that are draining profits for years. You won’t stand a ghost of a chance unless you take bold action. Drive a stake through the heart of middleman expenses and take your listings directly to the web. Cut compensation for mis-priced listings that take too long to sell; offer candied apple bonuses to sellers who price it right. Lower the guillotine on unsold listings by offering to auction stagnant inventory at the end of the month. You might scare off the competition – and the evil spirits – with some bold new thinking.
  • November 2nd: Pioneer a new trail. What better way to celebrate an American pioneer than to blaze a new trail on Daniel Boone’s birthday – online, of course. With only 1 in 2 REALTORS using social media, why not celebrate by gathering everyone together to learn how to text, tweet or ‘Tube. Social media feels like the Wild West, so pluck up your courage and saddle up for the new frontier. Boone said, “Curiosity is the natural soul of man,” so explore ways to turn hostile lands into fruitful fields in social media next year.
  • November 4th: Cast a vote of confidence. Never mind the elections, it’s your customers who need your vote. They want to know you believe in them, you support their goals of owning a home, and have their best interests at heart when helping them sell one. Organize a letter writing campaign, go door to door, hand out bumper stickers and pins to send your consumers a strong message that the American Dream is alive and well. Host a Party (serve tea if you like) and fill the room with constituents to hear your message – in person, online, absentee by video. To work in a market of opportunities, your customers need to hear your vote of confidence in the present and future of housing.
  • November 28th: Celebrate private property. Did you know the Pilgrims nearly starved to death because their elders originally forbade private property, opting for communal ownership of land? They couldn’t own the fruits of their labors – literally – so they fell idle and lazy. Only when Sir Thomas Dale gave each man 3 acres to be held privately did the fields suddenly bear more than ample outputs. Business owners can apply this lesson  by ensuring hard work is rewarded with better compensation, and idlers are kicked out of the colony. And like the Pilgrims, who quickly discovered the benefits of specialization, consider how your company can focus each person’s talents on optimal contributions, rather than force everyone to plow the same fields in unison every month.
  • December 5th: Create a magical kingdom. The secret to one of world’s greatest success stories was an almost childlike belief in diversity. So, make Walt Disney’s birthday an opportunity for you to look at the housing business with fresh eyes. Think of ways to diversify your offerings. Walt went from cartoons to theme parks to movies; each different, but held together by the common thread of imagination and entertainment. Look for ways you can do the same, creating or investing in ancillary industries to create new pipelines of customers. Think about why people move – jobs, weddings, graduations – to develop natural synergies for diversifying: Is there a link from career counselling, wedding planning and college preparation back to  present and future housing services?
  • December 25th: Make a list, check it twice. Popular folksong has Santa checking a list for who’s been naughty or nice. Sounds like a good lesson for sales professionals: It’s called writing a business plan, and it can be as simple as dividing your business into naughty and nice columns. Naughty things are expenses to be cut, listing mistakes to avoid and things that waste time. Nice things are clients who create profits, agents worth recruiting and technologies that pull our sleighs through the skies. If you don’t want coal in your stockings, write up a business plan for 2011, so Santa will be sure to stop by your chimney with plenty of sugar plums next year.